Thursday, October 29, 2009

Temporary Opt Out of Mandates

A Republican lawmaker says cash-strapped municipalities shouldn’t have to pay for state mandates they can’t afford.
Berks County State Representative Sam Rohrer says a majority of Pennsylvania’s cities are financially distressed right now—partially due to the burden of needing to fund countless state mandates out of their own budgets.
He’s introduced a bill that would allow counties, municipalities and school boards to “opt out” of following through on various requirements the General Assembly hands down.
Rohrer notes this isn’t some sort of state version of nullification, pointing out the requirements would still go into effect—just a few years later.

"This is not an elimination of any of the regulations or legislation that’s at mandate. And I think that’s a critical part. This is a suspension for a finite period of time. And it is motivated by the significant financial impact the local governments are getting."

Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach says local governments need a financial break.

"It’s irresponsible to continue to expect counties, school districts, municipalities and boroughs to continue to pick up the cost for programs that the Legislature has mandated. If you want us to do something, pay for it. If it’s important enough to mandate than it’s important enough to fund."

Local governments would be able to ignore the state mandates for up to five years under the legislation.
Rohrer has been considering a run for governor, and says he’ll make up his mind in the next two weeks. He’d be an underdog in the Republican primary, going up against Attorney General Tom Corbett and Congressman Jim Gerlach.

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